Bruce Girrell on sun 26 dec 99
Seasons' greetings to all
This is sort of a "where do I start" kind of question. Hopefully, those
of you who have done something like this can help point us in the right
Lynne and I want to create a place where we can bring people together
for workshops. We are interested, of course, in pottery, but also other
areas, such as relationships, vision quests, personal development,
spirituality, etc. would be included. While we feel competent to
facilitate some of these, we would also want to bring in others to lead.
I guess what we need help with is refining the vision.
First, do we need any sort of credentials to start doing something like
this or can we just do the work and let the results speak for
themselves? I have a college education, I have many years' experience
organizing and teaching corporate seminars, I have addressed national
and international conventions and have made presentations for the likes
of Battelle Labs, but I don't have any kind of teaching credentials.
What is required before you can call yourself a school?
What sort of regulations would we come under for doing such a thing? If
we were located in a rural area, would we suddenly find ourselves
dealing with some sort of commercial classification?
What kind of insurance do we need to get, especially with stuff like
kilns and hazardous materials about? Do you get participants to sign
I know it's a lot of questions, but I don't have a real good feel for
where to start. Thanks for any help that you can give.
Bruce and Lynne Girrell
NakedClay@aol.com on mon 27 dec 99
In a message dated 12/26/99 , writes:
> First, do we need any sort of credentials to start doing something like
> this or can we just do the work and let the results speak for
> themselves? I have a college education, I have many years' experience
> organizing and teaching corporate seminars, I have addressed national
> and international conventions and have made presentations for the likes
> of Battelle Labs, but I don't have any kind of teaching credentials.
> What is required before you can call yourself a sxhool?
The credentials you'll need are experience with your subject of choice,
confidence in leading and directing groups of people, the ability to manage a
budget, and having flexibility to make last-minute changes.
Instead of calling your enterprize a "school," you might consider becoming a
non-profit educational organization. This way, you may not need to pass
rigorous inspections and examinations of credentials that public and private
schools require. Every state has it's own legal requirements for setting up
such an organization. You might check with your state's Dept. of
Corporations, for more information.
I've been organizing, or have been a planner for educational organizations
which solicit workshop leaders to annual gatherings and other events. I have
planned events for up to 300 attendees and small groups of 10-25. Here are
some thoughts I have on this:
(1) Begin by looking at the very last minute of the last day of the event.
What will those in attendance take home with them? I suggest that you work
backwards from that minute, in order to assure that your goals are clear and
reasonable. Take time to brainstorm. Write down all ideas, no matter how "far
out" they seem.
(2) Numbers. How many people can you manage at one time? The greater the
number, the more you will need others to assist you plan for your event, and
to help manage the event.
(3) Location. Is the location you want to hold the event able to handle the
expected number of attendees? Will there be enough: parking spaces, bunks,
dining room chairs, bathrooms, showers, space for personal reflection. In
addition, will the studio/meeting space/massage room be adequate for the
number of people you can manage at one time? What, if any, amenities will be
needed? Is the location easy to find?
(4) Money. Consider your costs for the event (rent of facilities, promotional
brochures, extra blankets, office & maintenance supplies, items needed for
workshops. Will you cook the food yourself, or hire a chef? Do you want to
break even, or do you expect a profit? Hired help, such as instructional
assistants, and other workers' wages need to be considered, too.
(5) Time. You may need a couple of months to adequately prepare for a
small-group event. Larger groups (100+) sometimes require 6-12 months. The
amount of advance time is dependent on a number of things, such as booking a
place to hold your event, scheduling special lecturers/workshop leaders, or
hiring a caterer. In addition, you may want extra time to promote the event,
to assure that a minimum number of attendees will be present.
(6) Dates. What time of the year is best to hold the event? Inclemite weather
might not be a problem for indoors-oriented activities, but it could ruin a
mostly-outdoors event. Consider whether holding an event during a holiday
would be moreso advantageous over a non-holiday period.
(7) Food. Will your attendees bring their own food, or will three meals per
day be provided? Consider asking the attendees to help out with routine prep
work (peeling potatoes, for instance), if your workshop schedule allows this.
Otherwise, it might be best to hire kitchen help. Food is the number one
matter which elicits the most concerns, during a short-term event. Be sure to
provide as much flexibility in food selection, to serve the widest variety of
tastes and needs, within reason. If yours is a cuisine-conscious gathering
(vegetarian, for instance), be sure to note that in your promotional
(8) Other Considerations. Consider an extra phone line for receiving calls
about the event, or for hooking up a FAX machine or computer. Internet web
pages might help "sell" your event, too. To make the evennigs interesting for
your attendees, plan an evening of lively entertainment--it can be a simple
as a campfire sing-along, or could be elaborate, such as hiring a local brass
I hope this stimulates you to take action and make your dreams come alive.
Please contact me, if you need more food for thought.
Preparing for an upcoming Gathering to celebrate the end of the 1900's, and
the beginning of the 2000's.
Joyce Lee on mon 27 dec 99
Actually, Bruce, I (and I'm sure others) are interested in some similar
endeavors ... or at least attending such and seeing what happens. Where
are you located? I'm fortunate enough to have Mendocino within a long
day's drive, and Terry's Nottingham Center for the Arts within hours
south of us, and Tom Coleman's studio in Vegas only about 4 hours away
... so I am not bereft of wonderful places to attend... which I expect
to be able to do once again in 2000 ... but am always looking for
another clay experience. I'm sure there are others such as I.
In the Mojave on way to Kern River for a few days ... gorgeous
weather... AND they have a bird sanctuary where I can meander and see
wonderful sights... nice. Will look for potters, also.
Marian Morris on sun 2 jan 00
I have been doing it for five years. I have no art "credential," just twenty
some years of experience at the hobby level and many hours of undergraduate
pottery classes and workshops with a great diversity of teachers. I have
been a insatiably curious student, so have picked up quite a lot along the
way. I have an MA in educational administration (my day job), so like you,
know the principles of teaching.
What you have to decide is: a) is there a market for what you want to teach,
and b) do you feel confident enough in your experience level to feel that
you truly have something to teach?
In my case, the local College ofers Pottery 1 and 2, but there is no one
teaching short term workshops, nor anyone who is interested in teaching
beginners or hobbyists. Therein was my market: beginners, or intermediate
potters who want to learn the specific skills I teach.
If you have your own studio, you do indeed have to have insurance, and you
should see our insurance agent about business coverage. You probably also
have to get a permit to teach on top of any permitting required for
operating a pottery studio. You might also need a business license in your
You should see a lawyer about liability. Mine said that waivers are fine,
but you can be sued for anything regardless of how many waivers you have, so
the best practice is to operate an immaculately safe studio, with all
materials clearly labeled as to their safety, have the MSDS's on hand for
everything you use, offer a safety orientation as part of your published
syllabus and REQUIRE your students to have it before they begin, and have
the gloves, safety glasses and dust masks there or require students to
provide their own.
Its a lot of hassle to do all this so that you can teach in your own studio,
so the other option is to approach your local college's extended education
office, a community art guild, or recreation department and see about
teaching through them. Your portfolio and resume of teaching experience will
help you here.
I started out teaching in the college studio through extended ed. I brought
everything for the classes- I was a travelling pottery studio, which
provided the idea for the first class- "Pottery for the home hobbyist." This
made it possible for me to teach in any classroom that had water, though I
was limited to handbuilt work.
I've done many classes since then on themes such as tiles, mosaic work
with handmade tiles, hump and slump, majolica, etc. These classes market
very well, because there are quite a few people who want to putter on a
specific thing, or learn the basics without having to subject themselves to
16 weeks of a fairly intimidating class at the college.
>From: Bruce Girrell
>Reply-To: Ceramic Arts Discussion List
>Subject: Organizing workshops
>Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:33:44 EST
>Seasons' greetings to all
>This is sort of a "where do I start" kind of question. Hopefully, those
>of you who have done something like this can help point us in the right
>Lynne and I want to create a place where we can bring people together
>for workshops. We are interested, of course, in pottery, but also other
>areas, such as relationships, vision quests, personal development,
>spirituality, etc. would be included. While we feel competent to
>facilitate some of these, we would also want to bring in others to lead.
>I guess what we need help with is refining the vision.
>First, do we need any sort of credentials to start doing something like
>this or can we just do the work and let the results speak for
>themselves? I have a college education, I have many years' experience
>organizing and teaching corporate seminars, I have addressed national
>and international conventions and have made presentations for the likes
>of Battelle Labs, but I don't have any kind of teaching credentials.
>What is required before you can call yourself a school?
>What sort of regulations would we come under for doing such a thing? If
>we were located in a rural area, would we suddenly find ourselves
>dealing with some sort of commercial classification?
>What kind of insurance do we need to get, especially with stuff like
>kilns and hazardous materials about? Do you get participants to sign
>I know it's a lot of questions, but I don't have a real good feel for
>where to start. Thanks for any help that you can give.
>Bruce and Lynne Girrell
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